In Conversation With: Lucy Duncan, Director of 'Stags and Hens'

We chat to Lucy Duncan ahead of the latest NUTS (Newcastle University Theatre Society) production.

Tom Wrath
14th November 2021
Image Credit: Lucy Duncan
Lucy Duncan joins us to chat about her upcoming production, directorial techniques, personal growth, and the scouse accent.

Could you give us a little background as to why you chose Stags and Hens?

Stags and Hens is so funny and fast paced and there’s opportunities for everyone because there is no part of the play that doesn’t require every actor to be on stage. It’s so fast-paced and at the end of such a hard few years we want to boost morale and bring a feel-good factor. That being said it’s interesting and exciting to watch, it’s comedy with a purpose.

Personally, I tried to put on a production of this back in 2020 when we were quite far through rehearsals, but it was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID.

Have you taken a different approach this time around?

The first time around it was my first directorial role and something that I was both excited for and incredibly proud of.

However, it’s a very different approach this time around: different sets, costumes, and different ways of shaping my characters. With the show being so deep and multi-levelled, there are so many things to try, and the cast have been brilliant- only small tweaks have been needed throughout to make them show ready!

I’ve been able to see how far I’ve come from the first production, and how much better the show could be this time! That is no detriment to the original production, but I’ve changed a lot as a person and in my directorial stance.

What sort of creative, directorial techniques have you used throughout the process?

The main thing is to let my cast know they’re doing a good job, to make sure they’re both encouraged and motivated. Constructive criticism- telling actors ‘You’ve done a great job with this, but maybe just try doing this instead’ is so important!

Poster for 'Stags and Hens'- Image Credit: Ellie Denton

Do you take anything from your own experiences acting into directing?

I’d taken part in 3 very different NUTS shows before directing the first production; a serious, a comedy and a musical. Being able to apply that direction that I received before to my directing helped me negotiate the different sections and moods of Stags and Hens- from the more serious scenes to the musically parts.

Can you give us a little plot summary?

1997, Liverpool, and set in potentially the grottiest club in the city, there are a set of Stags and a set of Hens. At the end of the first act, they bump into the hens ex, and things begin to unravel- I won’t spoil it too much though!

Some of 'Hens' in rehearsal- Image Credit: Lucy Duncan

What do you plan to do with the set?

We’ve got a really exciting set and gorgeous costumes. We’re going to have a split stage with stags and hens on opposite sides and are really going for a grotty nightclub with lots of stains, peeling paint, chewing gum on the walls, posters, and lighting! It’s strange because it’s a simple set to construct, but the decoration will make it truly immersive, with plans to light up one floor just like Flares!

Set and costume are passionate about being environmentally sustainable, buying the majority of stuff from charity shops to keep costs down, and help recycling.

One last question: how are your cast getting on with the accent?

(Laughs) Ohhhh the Scouse accent! This time we have two scousers on the cast who have been a massive help. I cast many strong accents, but they have all genuinely picked it up so well, and it’s lovely to watch them developing as they go through it. Billy will be Scottish, to demonstrate the lack of social mobility in the 70s, and the character profile really lends itself to this.

Can you give me three words to describe the show?

Gritty, effervescent, and…emotional.

Stags and Hens runs at Venue (underneath NUSU) from 22nd-23rd November- with two evening and one matinee performance.

Tickets can be purchased on the link below:

https://www.nusu.co.uk/getinvolved/societies/society/nuts/

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